Anja Herkner
Institute of Rural Studies

Bundesallee 64
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5501
Fax: +49 531 596 5599

Regional economic resilience in Germany and Europe


Often only a look beneath the surface reveals whether a regional economy is resilient or not. This also applies to Germany, where “resilience” is referred to as “Resilienz”. (c) Coloures-Pic/Fotolia
Resilience research addresses the question of how regional economies can attenuate the impact of an economic shock at the best possible rate. (© Coloures-Pic/Fotolia)

The recession of 2008/2009 has led to the so far biggest economic downturn in Germany of the post-war period. Today, the crisis provides illustrative material about how the economic resilience of countries, regions and firms to external shocks can be improved.

Background and Objective

Ever since the financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009, the capabilities of regional economies to withstand and to recover from external shocks are being increasingly discussed under the keyword of resilience. The concept originates from psychology, was later adapted from engineering sciences and is now, primarily as a reaction towards the crisis of 2008/2009, also gaining significance in economic geography and regional economics.

In both disciplines, the spatial component, naturally, plays an important role. The fundamental research question in the field of resilience refers to the underlying resilience determinants. In consideration of spatial aspects, this question can be posed as follows: At which spatial levels can the determining factors of resilience be located, and how do these factors interact across several levels?

Although the number of resilience oriented papers in spatial sciences has increased significantly in the recent past, so far only few empirical studies analyse the hierarchical structure of determinants by means of larger datasets and quantitative methodology.

The goal of this project is to identify essential determinants of resilience at different spatial scales and to disclose interdependencies that arise within and across levels. In this way, the project helps explain the region-specific progressions of the crisis in Germany and Europe and provides guidance for policy makers on how to increase the resilience of regional economies.


The spatial focus of the project is primarily, but not exclusively, directed at the regional level. However, since regions are neither spatially isolated nor fully homogenous, both the neighbouring regions as well as the (inter-)national level and the firm level are being included in the identification of resilience determinants. For this reason, the project is subdivided into a number of in-depth studies, in which the regional level is being linked either to the upper macro- or to the lower micro-level, depending on the specific question.

The procedure allows for a hierarchically structured compilation of focal resilience determinants as well as for a thorough investigation of cross-level interactions that emerge between them. Likewise, it can be examined whether specific mechanisms that call for a differentiated economic policy strategy can be identified for specific types of regions, such as urban and rural areas.

Data and Methods

With regard to its empirical design, the project has a distinctly quantitative focus. Depending on the research question, network, time series and/or multilevel analyses, spatial econometric instruments and other regression techniques are applied.

The database of the project includes, among other things, individual data of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), firm data of the BioTechnologie year and address book (BIOCOM); data of the Mannheim Enterprise Panel (MUP), regional data of the Cambridge Econometrics' European Regional Database and of EUROSTAT, and macroeconomic data of the OECD.

Our Research Questions

  • How can economic resilience be operationalized in order to become accessible for quantitative research questions?
  • What are the key determinants of regional resilience, at which spatial levels do they occur, and which interdependencies between determinants can be identified?
  • Do urban and rural areas differ in terms of resilience capacities and essential determinants?


Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Geographisches Institut (GI)
    (Bochum, Deutschland)
  • Hamburgisches WeltWirtschaftsInstitut (HWWI)
    (Hamburg, Deutschland)
  • Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung (ZEW)
    (Mannheim, Deutschland)


1.2018 - 12.2019

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: ongoing

Publications to the project

hits: 4

  1. Hundt C, Holtermann L, Steeger J, Bersch J (2019) Cluster externalities, firm capabilities, and the recessionary shock: How the macro-to-micro-transition shapes firm performance during stable times and times of crisis. Utrecht: Univ, 35 p, Papers Evolutionary Econ Geogr 07.19
  2. Margarian A, Hundt C (2019) Location, industry structure and (the lack of) locally specific knowledge: On the diverging development of rural areas in Germany's East and West. Marburg: Univ Marburg, 34 p, Working Papers Innov Space 04.19
  3. Pudelko F, Hundt C, Holtermann L (2018) Gauging two sides of regional economic resilience in Western Germany - Why sensitivity and recovery should not be lumped together. Rev Reg Res 38(2):141-189, DOI:10.1007/s10037-018-0124-4
  4. Holtermann L, Hundt C (2018) Hierarchically structured determinants and phase-related patterns of economic resilience - An empirical case study for European regions. Marburg: Univ Marburg, 38 p, Working Papers Innov Space 02.18